At approximately 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, March 15, two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the off-campus apartment building in which the Brown RISD Jewish Agency for Israel Fellow lives. One of the bombs entered his apartment but did not explode. The second hit an outside wall and ignited, causing limited damage. The fellow was not injured in the attack. He immediately called the police and relocated to another building.
Providence Police and the FBI are investigating the incident. The Jewish Agency and the Israeli Embassy are cooperating fully. Neither the attacker nor the target of the attack is known at this point.
Notified of this incident on Saturday night, Hillel directors around the world sent messages of support to Brown Hillel.
Hillel's Schusterman International Center has been in contact with the fellow and Brown's Acting Hillel Director Megan Nesbitt to offer support and assistance. Nesbitt has mobilized her student leaders, staff, and board members to address the many challenges that may arise. She has received the full support and assistance of Brown University. In a statement to the public, Hillel President Wayne L. Firestone praised Nesbitt's work and expressed gratitude for the support she has received from the university and community.
Hillel's Jewish Agency for Israel Shaliach Doron Rubin has been in contact with Jewish Agency officials and with all the Israel Fellows. He traveled to Providence to be with the fellow on Sunday and to help the Brown Hillel staff. Hillel's Jewish Agency for Israel Fellows, located on 21 campuses, are part of Hillel's global efforts to educate Jewish students and their campuses about Israel.
A meeting took place on Sunday night to enable the community to process the incident together. About 50 students were joined by President Ruth Simmons; Russell Carey, vice president for student life; representatives of the Providence Police; the mayor's office; R.I Jewish Federation Director of Community Relations Marty Cooper; Federation Executive Director Steve Silberfarb; Hillel Jewish Agency Shaliach Doron Rubin; and, from the Chaplain's Office, Janet Cooper Nelson, Emily Mathis, and Rumee Ahmed.
Pres. Simmons read a powerful statement deploring the action and committing the university to assuring the total safety and security of the community. Pres. Simmons also reiterated and earlier Brown statement.
Janet Cooper Nelson of the Chaplain's Office referred to a text of the upcoming Purim holiday in which Mordechai comments to Esther how sometimes people are put in a time and a place to make history, and suggested that we might be in a similar situation. She reiterated that it is a Brown birthright to have a place that guards the safety, dignity, and respect for every individual. She suggested vigilance as a "spiritual action," and stated that "in a community of learning not one of us can be at risk and have this be the world we want it to be."
Three Jewish organizations -- the Jewish Federation, the Anti-Defamation League and Brown University/Rhode Island School of Design Hillel -- in cooperation with the Police Department, announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for the attack.
The police urged anyone with information about the incident to call the police emergency telephone line at (401) 272-1111 or the police Investigative Division at (401) 243-6406.
The student Board of Brown RISD Hillel issued the following statement:
We, the student executive board of Brown RISD Hillel, are horrified by the act of violence committed against Yossi Knafo, our emissary from Israel.
Yossi has been a valuable asset to our community, presenting a strong Israeli voice at Hillel and on campus as a whole. Moreover, he has been instrumental in building bridges between members of the Hillel community and other groups on campus. While we do not know the motivations for this attack, it nevertheless raises our sensitivity to hate crimes and actions inspired by intolerance.
We are proud to be part of a community that has so strongly united in the wake of this incident, and we applaud the actions of Brown University throughout the course of events so far. Even in this period of emotional turmoil, we know that we will overcome this incident to retain and strengthen the spirit of open discussion that is the cornerstone of our education.
Eytan Kurshan '08, Jacob Baskin '08, Josh Tobias '08, Danielle Levine '09, Jonathan Isaac Mitchell '09
FBI Probes Potential Hate Crime Near College (Boston Globe)
Firebombs Thrown at Hillel Staffer's House (Brown Daily Herald)
After Attack Officer Posted Outside Hillel (Brown Daily Herald)
Reward Announced in Attack (Providence Journal)
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